Useful Information
Preservation of newborn stem cells offers an opportunity to provide an additional health reserve for the child and its closest relatives.
What are stem cells?

Stem cells are cells, which form all organs and tissues in a human body. These cells are new, strong, and able to divide and differentiate into other cell types. 

How do stem cells differ from other cells?

Stem cells are completely new, as they are collected right after childbirth when they have their highest potential and greatest activity; stem cells that are used in therapy do not possess a risk of rejection; if necessary, these cells are quickly available for treatment purposes. 

What is the current use of stem cells in medicine?

Nowadays stem cells are widely used for treatment of more than 80 diseases - stem cell therapy is one of the most recent forms of treatment; it is expected that the use and the potential of stem cell therapy is going to grow in the future. Most commonly, stem cell therapy is used in oncohematology (acute leukemia, haematopoietic disorders), as well as in treatment of autoimmune diseases (diabetes mellitus, Chron’s disease, non-specific ulcerative colitis), nervous system diseases (stroke, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy) and other illnesses.

Can umbilical cord blood stem cells be used by relatives?

Yes, they can potentially be used by the whole family.

If the patient and the doctor consider stem cell transplantation as a treatment option, the doctor will find out, which kind of transplant fits the individual case best. If the patient needs an autologous transplant, the procedure can be carried out with the patient’s own cells (if they have been preserved prior to the procedure). If the patient requires an allogeneic transplant, patient’s relatives are considered as possible stem cell donors. In that case, doctors carry out a specific test - HLA typing, which helps to determine the probable compatibility between the relatives. The probability of umbilical cord blood stem cell compatibility between close relatives is 50-70%.

What is HLA typing?

Human leukocyte antigen is a protein (also known as a marker), which is present in most cells in the human body, and it is used to find the most suitable donor for bone marrow and umbilical cord blood transplantation. The best transplant outcome occurs when the patient’s HLA and donor’s HLA are closely matched. The patient has a fairly high compatibility with his own siblings.

When are stem cells collected, and is the collection process harmless for the mother and the baby?

During childbirth, after the baby is born.

After the baby is born, the medical staff waist until the umbilical cord stops pulsating (~ 3-5min). It means that the child has received the necessary amount of blood, and it is time to remove the baby from the umbilical cord. The midwife or an obstetrician places the clamp on the umbilical cord and cuts it. Then, the third stage of labor begins, and it ends with the delivery of the placenta. During this period of time, the medical staff has to collect stem cells from the end of the umbilical cord, which is connected to the mother. By piercing the umbilical vein with a special needle, which has a sachet with an anticoagulant, the baby’s umbilical cord blood is collected in a very short time. This procedure is painless and harmless to both the mother and the newborn. 

How much cord blood is usually taken?

Approximately 40-80ml. 

Is it possible to collect stem cells during a Caeserian delivery?

In case if you have a planned or unplanned acute cesarean section, stem cell collection is still possible. Medical staff is properly trained to collect umbilical cord blood in a safe and qualitative manner.

What if the expectant mother is pregnant with twins?

Twins are usually given two cord blood collection kits. 

Our Stem Cell Center has special offers for twin pregnancies!

Does the stem cell collection process influence my child’s stem cell count?

Umbilical cord blood collection process takes places after the umbilical cord has been cut, and the baby receives enough stem cells in the first 3-5 minutes after childbirth, before he has been removed from the umbilical cord.

When should we conclude an agreement regarding stem cell banking?

At any time when it is convenient for you. The agreement can be concluded at the Stem Cell Center by making an appointment with our patient coordinator. 

The optimal time to conclude an agreement is the 30th week of pregnancy.

Is it possible to mix up the stem cell samples?

No.

It is impossible to mix up stem cell samples! Each patient and each umbilical cord blood collection kit is given a unique barcode. When the sample is delivered to our laboratory, this code remains with the sample at all stages of processing and freezing. This, in turn, allows us to completely eliminate the human factor and respect patient confidentiality throughout the stem cell banking process. IVF Riga Stem Cell Center is strictly following the protocol and all procedures that completely eliminate the possibility of a mix up. In addition, our Stem Cell Center has obtained all the necessary certificates that ensure that we have met all the important criteria, and everything in the stem cell banking process is designed for safe further transportation and preservation.

What are the chances that stem cell viability is going to decrease after thawing?

The decrease of stem cell viability after thawing is minimal. The umbilical cord blood sample can be used immediately after thawing and removing the cryoprotectant solution.

What is a genetic passport?

Newborn’s genetic passport allows to identify possible inherited genetic diseases. Our center offers genetic tests for the following conditions: lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, cystic fibrosis, hemochromatosis and alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency. Timely detection of possible inherited diseases will notably minimize or completely eliminate health risks associated with the illnesses. Newborn genetic passport is included in LUX and LUX+ stem cell banking programmes.

How can I be sure that our child’s umbilical cord blood stem cell sample is thoroughly tested and safe?

This is a question we often hear from expectant mothers.

All cord blood samples are subject to certain processing procedures, which are evaluated by State Agency of Medicines of the Republic of Latvia and  governed by the Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 1176 “Procedure for the Use of Human Tissues and Cells”. Compliance with these regulations, as well as authorization for the use of human tissues and cells issued by State Agency of Medicines is a mandatory requirement for all institutions involved in collection and processing of all human biological material, including stem cell banks, and IVF Riga Stem Cell Center is no exception. We have received State Agency of Medicines tissue and cell use authorization No.AC-7/6 (https://www.zva.gov.lv/doc_upl/AC_7_6_iVF-20171107.PDF) and we work in accordance with Latvian and European legislation

  1. To determine that the collected cord blood sample is safe, it is carefully examined for the following infections in accordance with the Cabinet of Ministers Regulation No. 1176, Appendix No.3:
    • HIV 1 and 2 (Anti HIV-1,2)
    • Hepatitis B (HBsAg, Anti HBc)
    • Hepatitis C (Anti-HCV-Ab)
    • Syphilis
  2. It is highly important to ensure a complete and thorough test of the sample, therefore IVF Riga Stem Cell Center examines the sample for bacteriological contamination:
    • Aerobic and Anaerobic microflora
  3. To ensure that the family of the child is fully informed about the quality, characteristics and viability of the sample, the sample is analyzed by special devices - flow cytometer and haematological analyser. These devices help to determine cell viability and blood cell count in the sample:
    • Number of cells (mln)
    • Sample size (ml)
    • Cell viability (%)

IVF Riga provides a careful, three-stage sample check. As the sample is processed in certified laboratories, we can guarantee the quality of the sample. This type of certified laboratory is the only one in the territory of Latvia.

If we store our child’s stem cells in the IVF Riga Stem Cell Center, can they be transported to other countries?

This is another question posed by the parents, which we gladly answer:

The Cabinet of Ministers Regulation No. 1176, specifically paragraphs 92, 93 and 94 provide for the transportation procedure of the processed sample to other medical institutions for the purpose of medical use. IVF Riga Stem Cell Center is authorized to transport the processed sample to other medical institutions, which have received permission for human tissue and cell use as a part of the patient’s therapy. Based on the concluded agreements, the export license allows the sample to be transported outside of the European Union Member States and the European Economic Area. If the stem cell center in question does not have such a permit, it is possible to receive a single use emergency import/export permit and send the patient’s stem cell sample to any medical treatment institution for the treatment of the patient, even if the institution is not located in a European Union Member State or the European Economic Area.